The Talk

Last Friday, my soon-to-be ex had “The Talk” with my 7 year old step-daughter. “The Talk” meaning the “Benee and I are not married anymore” talk.

Without me.

We had previously agreed that we would sit her down and tell her together, so that we could both express our love for her and for our family, and reassure her that it was nothing that she did. He’d picked her up from home (I’m usually the one who does that since I have the car) and met me in Manhattan. Our plan was to pick up the boy and spend a nice family evening together.  When I called him to see where they were, he said, “I need you to get out of the car and give J a big hug because I had “the talk” with her.”  Immediately, I was angry. How could he do that without me? He explained that she was asking questions and he felt he had to answer them. He said that she was crying and asking what happened, why was this happening. My heart was breaking as he spoke, but I got out of the car and as they approached, I grabbed her and gave her a big hug.

In those moments, I held her close and I felt broken. All of the pain of everything that led to this point of having “the talk” came rushing back and I was hurt, sad, angry, bitter, and depressed all at once. But, I knew that I had to put on a strong front, a happy face, and be supportive of her needs at the time. I admit I was hurt and disappointed that he talked to her without me, but then I understood that he felt the need to ease his daughter’s confusion and I allowed him that.

We had a good family evening. She’d been asking why sometimes she stayed with her daddy at grandpa’s house and why sometimes she stayed with me and her brother, without daddy. It was time to explain and I think we put it off for so long because we had not yet tied up our loose ends. We didn’t want to confuse her until we were absolutely positive things we done with us.

And they are.

So now, the next task is handling the more sensitive task of ensuring that the 3 year old boy comes to some understanding of the situation. At least, whatever his 3 year old mind can handle.  He seems to have a confused sense of “home” and that troubles me. This past weekend, he called me “Abuela” at least 5 times. “Abuela! Ummmm Mommy…” was how he started several sentences. That troubles me because I already have issues with the choice we made to have him stay with his father and grandparents during the week and me on weekends. I don’t want to disturb his amazing development as a little intelligent, funny, precocious boy. I’ve read the statistics about the effects of “broken homes” on young people and we’re doing what we can to counter the negative effects by wrapping him up with the love of extended family.

But I’m still his mommy. And I’m still her “other” mother, as she has always known me to be. I over think the future, especially since her father is already focused on the woman he wants to be his next wife. I overthink how maybe, eventually, I will become obsolete to her. Will she still think of me as her second mommy? Or will his new wife replace me and that precious position I’ve held for the last 4.5 years? Will she even remember these early years and all of the love and attention I gave her? Will she remember who taught her how to shop and coordinate her outfits, who did her hair on the weekends, who took her to get her nails done? Will I just be her brother’s mother after this new woman has replaced my position as her father’s wife?

It hurts, at times, when I think of the effect this has and will have on our children. They are so young, so innocent. This is such a huge period of adjustment and I feel we have a lot of careful work to do to make sure they don’t lose their sense of safety and stability. I admit, I’m nervous… I don’t know what to do, how to be….

And that scares the crap out of me.

11 thoughts on “The Talk

  1. Benee, this post is so beautiful in how you were so transparent. My heart hurts for you and your daughter during this trying time. I pray you all continue to have the strength and wisdom to make these difficult decisions for your children.

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  2. This made me sad, but thank you for sharing. I wonder – what is your relationship with her mother? How important is it to her that your bond with your daughter is protected?

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    1. Our relationship is ok I guess. We were a lot cooler earlier on until she crossed some boundaries and behaved inappropriately with my ex. Partly his fault, of course, but it made things somewhat strained between us.

      She does, however, understand the relationship J and I have and she respects it and encourages it. She doesnt want J suffering anymore confusion than I do.

      The interesting thing is that I feel its easier for her to adjust because from birth, she was always seeing her dad on weekends. Her parents never had a relationship so that wasnt the issue. As I said, she cannot recall the time in her life before me; she was in diapers. To her, Ive always been her second mommy, daddy’s partner/wife.

      I just fear losing that connection and influence when the next woman assumes that role.

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  3. I am also moved by your candor regarding this difficult period in your life. My question is about the conversations you’ve been having with her father about all of this. He brought her into your life, and asked you to mother her, which you did joyously and willingly, with obvious love. He now also has a responsibility to navigate this situation with you; what are his thoughts on your continued role in her life?

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    1. He is working very hard to make sure our relationship thrives. As I said, there are weekends when she comes with me and stays with me and G, without her dad being there. We have our own time. Now, she just understands why daddy isnt there at those times.

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  4. Benee, you are tugging my heart-strings with this one. I would be heart broken if a child I mothered didn’t see me in that role. I hope you are always a mother in her eyes, because, let’s face it, mothers are a blessing. I have two mothers (and two fathers) and have been very blessed to be parented and loved by each of them, though in different ways.

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    1. Thank you. I’m going to do everything I can to maintain the connection. It will become increasingly difficult as dad moves on with his next marriage, but I will fight, even if I only see her once a month.

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  5. This post just broke my heart! I think it says a lot about you that you are so sensitive to this issue and the needs of this little girl. Sending loving thoughts your way that this situation evolves in the best way possible.

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  6. As the product of a single mother household, I want encourage you by saying first that the ‘broken home’ model is greatly flawed in its assumption that 2 parent households provide everything a child could need.

    There are so many incredible things that my grandmother and mother were able to give me in the context of our home. That is not to say that I should not have had a father around, but if I was gonna have one around, it needed to be the right kind which is not available to us.

    Regardless of the romantic relationship, y’all can do this and will still produce an incredible young man. Your son will understand the complexity of humanity, of family, of give and take – if he is allowed to communicate openly and encouraged by open, honest, loving communication he it witness to.

    Y’all are gonna do right by him, regardless of how many homes he has. I genuinely do not think that there is a one model to raise a kid. The community waters and tends to the seed with intention, that is what matters most.

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    1. Kristia, thank you for your comment. I agree, there is no one right way to raise a child. I think we will be able to figure it out and make sure he doesn’t fall victim to the negativity that seems to be prescribed for him in this world.

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  7. You will be her mother and a strong woman in her life. And I imagine one of many strong women who will guide and walk alongside her, the gift is perhaps to see it from her perspective that she may have that many people in her life to learn from, if she stays open to it.

    The difficult part is of course the give and take in that. It is never easy for to be a child who watches adults and learns…that our parents are far more complex than we imagine. But we all go through it.

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